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Kohelet: the Preacher

The words of Kohelet[a], son of David, king in Jerusalem.

Futile! Futile! says Kohelet.
Completely meaningless!
Everything is futile![b]
What does a person gain in all his labor
    that he toils under the sun?
A generation comes, and a generation goes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to the place it rises.
The wind goes toward the south,
and circles around to the north.
Round and round it swirls about,
ever returning to its circuits.
All the rivers flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place where the rivers flow,
    there they go again.
All things are wearisome.
    No one can express them.
The eye is never satisfied with seeing,
    nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done will be done again.
There is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything about which is said,
“Look! This is new!”?
It was already here long ago,
    in the ages long before us.
11 There is no remembrance for former things,
    and things yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.

Search for Meaning in Life

12 I, Kohelet, am king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my heart to seek and examine by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a burdensome task God has given the sons of men to keep them occupied. 14 I have seen all the deeds done under the sun; and behold, all is meaningless and chasing after the wind.

15 What is crooked cannot be made straight.
What is missing cannot be counted.

16 I spoke with my heart saying: “I have grown rich and increased in wisdom more than any who were before me over Jerusalem. Indeed, my heart has experienced much wisdom and knowledge.” 17 So I applied my heart to know wisdom as well as to know madness and folly. I learned that this too was pursuit of the wind.

18 For with much wisdom comes much grief,
and whoever keeps increasing knowledge, increases heartache.


  1. Ecclesiastes 1:1 Heb. Kohelet, meaning preacher; collector of sentences.
  2. Ecclesiastes 1:2 cf. Rom. 8:20.